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hide folders Occasional snoopiness is the habit of man. The little world contained within our computers isn’t safe from eavesdroppers. The need to feel secure probably explains the surplus of encryption software available. We all have some skeletons in our hard disks or just need to keep some valuable files away from prying eyes. We already have looked at a few ways to do it manually here on MakeUseOf. You can read about it here How to Lock Or Hide A Folder, A File Or A Drive On The Computer How to Lock Or Hide A Folder, A File Or A Drive On The Computer Read More , here 2 Ways to Hide "Important" Files and Folders in Windows 2 Ways to Hide "Important" Files and Folders in Windows Read More and here Become a Secret Steganographer: Hide and Encrypt your Files Become a Secret Steganographer: Hide and Encrypt your Files Read More .

For those who don’t like the grease on the cuff, here is a roundup of 7 freeware applications to protect and hide folders and files, taking them away from common reach.

1. dirLock (v1.4)

dirlock - hidden folder

A small and simple program that locks-unlocks directories/folders/files on a NTFS volume. Using the hide option, the folder can be made invisible (enable the “˜Do Not Show Hidden Files’ option in the Folder Options-View settings).

An uncomplicated software, it also adds a Lock/Unlock entry for quick access in the right click context menu.

The 266KB software is available for Windows 2000,XP, 2003 Server from here.

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2. MyLockBox (v1.2)

mylockbox - hide folder

For simplicity – yes. For encryption – no. The application allows you to assign a password to a single LockBox folder. If you want to handle multiple files or folders, you have to pull everything into a master folder and lock it. The locked folder disappears from view and cannot be accessed by anyone without the password. The folder according to the developer’s website is also not accessible remotely, through DOS or the safe mode.

But do remember that it does not encrypt the contents of the hidden folder. The software comes with a skinnable interface. The 1.2MB software is available for Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista from here.

3. Sofonesia Folder Protector (v1.1)

sofonesia - xp hide folder

A lightweight software at 477KB, Sofonesia Folder Protector requires .Net Framework to function. Beyond that, hiding the folders is a cinch. Just add multiple files to the protected folder’s list and click. The software also does not encrypt the contents, it only hides the folder. Folder Protector also works in the Safe Mode. Password protection also has a failsafe in a “˜Forget password’ hint question.

Un-installation requires the password and a dialogue reminds the user to unlock all hidden files.The software is available for Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista from here.

4. Cryptainer LE (v7.3.2.0)

Cryptainer - hide files

Cryptainer does exactly as it advertises. The 3MB freeware creates encrypted vaults (plainspeak for an encrypted disk volume) which can be used to store any files in any media including USB drives. Multiple disks volumes can thus be created. The user can hide any file within the strong 128 bit encrypted password protected vault. Secure emails can also be sent using the encryption algorithm. Drag and drop any file into the “˜vault’ and it gets encrypted. The Cryptainer “˜vault’ is invisible so it effectively cloaks any file within it.

The free version of Cryptainer though only allows for 25MB of “˜vault’ space per disk volume. So if you are looking to hide larger files, this isn’t the answer.The free version is available for Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista from here.

5. CryptArchiver Lite (v3.1)

 hide files and folders

Cryptainer is a near twin to Cryptainer. It has a similar intuitive interface and follows the same process of secured protection. It similarly creates encrypted drives which can only be accessed by a password. When the drive is unloaded, it disappears from Windows and can only be accessed with the password. Similar to the aforementioned software, self decrypting files can also be sent to others through email.

The free version has a secured drive size limitation of 20MB and a bothersome nag screen which appears after 15 days.The 1.6MB software is available for Windows 2000,XP,2003 Server from here.

6. SuperStorm (v1.52)

superstorm

Superstorm does it differently. The software enables a user to hide his secret files in any media such as pictures, audio, video, executable programs and many other file types. The secret file gets merged into the media file, but the media file continues to function like before.

SuperStorm can also be easily run from a USB Drive as it is a self extracting application. The only limitation that the freeware version of SuperStorm has is that it can only handle file sizes of up to 1MB for encryption. Also, the freeware version lacks a password protection feature for the hidden file.The 623KB software is available for Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista from here.

TrueCrypt (v6.1a)

truecrypt-hiding folders

If you think that freeware and industrial strength file security can never meet, the open source TrueCrypt could prove you wrong. TrueCrypt not only encrypts data (using 256-bit AES and 448-bit Blowfish algorithms) but also cloaks the files in hidden volumes. TrueCrypt functions by creating a virtual encrypted disk which appears as a real disk volume. Files can be encrypted on the fly when moved into this volume and decrypted when moved out.

This virtual TrueCrypt volume can be kept hidden thus making the files invisible. TrueCrypt can also encrypt an entire drive, partition or even an external storage device like a USB drive. As further evidence of its capabilities, TrueCrypt can also encrypt the Windows boot partition or the entire boot drive. Furthermore it has the ability to create and run a hidden encrypted operating system. With these advanced features, TrueCrypt has become a power user’s favorite tool.

And if all this sounds too arcane, don’t worry”¦TrueCrypt provides a wizard based setup for the inexperienced user.TrueCrypt is available for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux from here.

You may also want to read Mark’s earlier review on Truecrypt How To Encrypt Sensitive Data with TrueCrypt How To Encrypt Sensitive Data with TrueCrypt Read More as well as his how-to on how to encrypt your USB stick with Truecrypt Encrypt Your USB Stick With Truecrypt 6.0 Encrypt Your USB Stick With Truecrypt 6.0 Read More .

An Important Footnote:

  • The software have been tried out on WinXp. Full functionality on Vista is not assumed.
  • As a precaution initially try out the software’ on dummy files and folders to check for inconsistencies.
  • Remember to remember the passwords.

Let us know your favorite way of hiding files and folders in the comments.

  1. Encryption Software
    October 21, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I have used TrueCrypt to encrypt the files on my work computer. Knowing that TrueCrypt's encryption algorithms are quite difficult to bypass, I am comfortable bringing my work laptop home with me and uploading some of my private information onto it. I thought about keeping my personal files on a thumb drive but I am an advocate of minimizing the amount of technology that is necessary. True Crypt simplifies the amount of technology I need in both my private and public life.

  2. txkezq
    September 27, 2009 at 7:07 am

    pascal,you can remove all those software with revo uninstaller(it's free) even when you don't know the password anymore.when you uninstall the program it would ask for the password,just ignore it and close the password window,than push the next button of the revo uninstaller (he will fully uninstall the program)

  3. Diabolic Preacher
    July 12, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Aibek, why 2 checkboxes to subscribe to comments. one above the comment box and one below. could you add some clarifying description.

    • Jinx
      August 21, 2009 at 6:42 pm

      Subscribe to comments via email = all the comments on the article
      Notify me of followup comments via e-mail = response for your comment

      • Diabolic Preacher
        August 21, 2009 at 10:24 pm

        Thanx Jinx :)

        I am just thinking aloud. Are individual file encrypters like AxCrypt better than volume containers like truecrypt. I am looking to digitise and encrypt a lot of important (to me) documents. I'm thinking whether I should create a single container or encrypt each one separately. Containers are not flexible in size, which is my main concern and individual files are a mess to handle in the long run.

  4. Diabolic Preacher
    July 12, 2009 at 5:15 am

    When you title your article with 7 free apps, atleast me expects to finally find that one unique article that gives me the alternatives to overhyped commercial default choices to give them a tough competition, to compel them to reconsider what they think is value for money. Whoever thinks of using a freeware that works on 1mb files. even floppies used to store more than that.
    Re: truecrypt, why'd you put that last? :(
    "If you think that freeware and industrial strength file security can never meet,"
    yes i think so very much, especially after reading your article. truecrypt is open source free software. freeware is free to use, but that's where it ends...and kinda moves backward, when u read through all the license constraints.

    wonder if in case of the folder hiders which don't encrypt, will they be accessible via linux or are they mangled in some way? and also can viruses use these tools for their benefit?

  5. Vlad
    June 1, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I have Sofonasia Folder Protector and lately I reinstalled Windows and Folder Protector, but I forgot to remove hiden folders from "protected folder" list, and now I can't open these folders :( Somebody has any idea how I Can back to see it?
    Thanks!!!

  6. StarsCream
    February 5, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Really helpful article. I tried a couple of the ones you listed. Truecrypt turned out to be truecrypt.org too complicated for me. After trying the others, I decided on the Cryptarchiver winencrypt.com/products/winencrypt-cryptarchiver-lite.htm encryption software to lock folders .
    The best thing I liked was it's small footprint. This was important to me as I installed it on my XP install on my tiny EeePC.

  7. ny turn
    January 24, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Nice tools btw I'm happy with Universal Shield. It can really everstrike.com hide folder. Also they have FlyCryptor software to everstrike.com/password-protect-folders and removable drive.

  8. Praveen
    January 10, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    I think folder Lock is a very good software to hide folders from others.

  9. Eric
    December 21, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    In your opinion, which one is the best in terms of overall convenience and security?

    • Saikat
      December 22, 2008 at 9:30 am

      In terms of raw power it would have to be TrueCrypt. But everything of course depends on the kind of security level you want. For basic folder invisibility, TrueCrypt could be an overkill. You could do with simpler solutions.

  10. quantoson
    December 17, 2008 at 6:06 am

    amazing to go through all that to hide a file. I hide files all the time and never find the dam things and all without the process you explained.

  11. Pascal
    December 7, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    To Saikat
    To answer your questions. I have tried the 'Forgot password question', I have admin rights and I have tried again with firewall of. I do not have other registry guard software.
    Thanks
    Pascal

  12. Pascal
    December 7, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Thanks Saikat for your response.
    I was able to uninstall the software (deleting the program file, then going to control panel which said that the program was already unistalled and let me delete the program name from the list).
    I just realized that my problem might be because I am not using IE (but Firefox) and therefore I might not have .Net Framework on my machine (you says in your post that it is necessary for this program to run). Do you think that this might be the issue? Any idea on how to install Net. Framework on Firefox?
    Thanks
    Pascal

    • Saikat
      December 7, 2008 at 11:40 pm

      You don't need to install .net separately for each browser. It's common for the whole system. But yes, that could be one of the cause for the problem. In the end, you did manage to solve your problem:)

  13. Pascal
    December 7, 2008 at 5:28 am

    I have downloaded and installed Sofonasia Folder Protector and the software does not recognized the set password. I looked on the net and others had the same problem. However Sofonesia website does not address it. The problem is that I can not uninstall the program without the password which is not recognized. Anyone would have an idea on how to solve this issue or on how to uninstall the software? Thanks.

    • Saikat
      December 7, 2008 at 9:10 am

      Have you tried out the "Forgot Password" question?
      This is very basic but check whether you have 'Administrator right' on the computer you are using.
      Is the firewall creating any problem? Or any registry guard software?
      The Sofonesia forum mentions a similar problem but it was rectified in the latest version. I personally did not encounter the problem when I installed and uninstalled the app. (After your comment, I installed and uninstalled it again!)
      Do let me know whether you have succeeded or failed.

  14. Pascal
    December 7, 2008 at 5:01 am

    I have downloaded Sofonesia Folder Protector (v1.1) and have not been able to use it. It does not recognize the password I gave (although I am 100% sure I remebered it correctly). Apparently other users had the same problem but I cannot find a response on the Sofonesia website. The annoying thing is that the software cannot be uninstalled with the password which the software does not recognize. Any idea on how to solve this issue or on how to uninstall the software? Thanks.

  15. venkat
    December 5, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    @Saikat I heard about truecrypt thanks for letting me know about remaining applications as well.

  16. Aoi_sora9x
    December 5, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    I wonder if there is any software that asks u for the password when u try to open the file rather than just encrypt it?

    • Aibek
      December 7, 2008 at 3:44 pm

      Did you read the post? Go through the whole post.

  17. Ajay Pathak
    December 5, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    all these looks to hide files. but instaed of hiding of file we can encrypt those filees
    that seems to be good idea . i may be wrong also

    • Saikat
      December 5, 2008 at 11:19 pm

      True...the last four software's do encrypt the files too.

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